Future-orientation (as trait and state) promotes reputation-protective choice in moral dilemmas
New working paper by Andrew Vonasch and Hallgeir Sjåstad (FAIR Insight Team), titled “Future-orientation (as trait and state) promotes reputation-protective choice in moral dilemmas”.
By neglecting the life-long importance of having a good reputation, humans can profit in the short run from immoral behavior. Thus, reputation-protection is an intertemporal choice. In three pre-registered studies (N=1,492), we tested the hypothesis that future-orientation would increase people's willingness to protect their reputation from harm. In hypothetical scenarios, people had to choose whether they would pay an immediate cost to prevent a devastating rumor from spreading. Study 1 found that trait-based future-orientation was positively correlated with reputation-protection. Study 2 manipulated time perspective experimentally, and found that future-focus (vs. present-focus) had a positive and causal effect on reputation-protection. Study 3 was a high-powered replication, showing that the effect of future-focus on reputation-protective choice was robust, and mediated by reputational concern. In line with common advice around the world of protecting one's reputation from harm, one way people may achieve that goal is to think about the future before acting.